Tens of thousands of people marched through Paris on Sunday to support the French government's plan to legalize gay marriage and adoption, but the turnout fell well short of a mass demonstration against the project two weeks ago.
Police estimated total attendance at about 125,000, while organizers put the number at 400,000. Two weeks ago, organizers of the anti-gay marriage protest claimed turnout of one million, while police put the number at 340,000, an unusually high turnout even in protest-prone France.
"There is a big difference between today's march and the one two weeks ago, which is that this demonstration is one of brotherhood, not of hatred," Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoe, who is openly gay, said on French television.
"The majority of French people wants all couples to have equality in love and parenthood," Delanoe added.
On Tuesday, French parliament starts a two-week debate about the planned law change, which would be one of the biggest social reforms since abolition of the death penalty in 1981.
The government's socialist and green majority is determined to pass the legislation, against which the conservative opposition has lodged some 5,000 amendments.
On Saturday, an Ifop poll showed the proportion of French supporting legalization of same-sex marriage has risen to 63 percent from 60 percent in early January and December, despite weeks of protest against the planned reform.
Support for adoption rights for gay couples also rose by 3 percentage points, although the country remains divided on the issue, with 49 percent in favor, according to the firm.
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